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February 05, 2008

Dimona coverage: Times beats Post

Compare New York Times reporting of the February 4 suicide bombing in Dimona, Israel with that of The Washington Post, and a chronic flaw of Post Arab-Israeli coverage appears: For The Post, Israelis are objects to be treated statistically; Palestinian Arabs are subjects, human beings treated with empathy.

The Times article is reported from the scene. The murdered Israeli is identified. Several at the scene of the attack are quoted. A police officer who killed a second, would-be bomber is identified as well as quoted. Human interest is added: a nurse "thrown through the air" by the blast remembers thinking of her daughter; a woman who narrowly missed being at the site of the attack is described as shopping after her son's bar mitzvah. Authorities note that terrorists loaded the bombs with metal balls, the more to murder and maim.

The Post article is reported from Jerusalem. The murdered Israeli is not identified; an erroneous Israeli news description of her age is given. The policeman who killed the second terrorist is neither named nor quoted. Only one Israeli at the scene is quoted by name, and just briefly. Virtually no Israeli human interest elements from Dimona are included.

But The Post does provide three paragraphs of such material from one bomber's family in Gaza City, including implicit justification from the father: Zaki al-Lahwani "laid part of the blame for the attack [by his son Loay] on Israel, because of the restrictions it has imposed on Gaza. 'A young man, he can't work; there's a siege all over Gaza; the borders blocked and people dying everywhere' in Israeli airstrikes. 'We don't know what he is thinking in this moment,' the father said." The Post does not say who else the father blamed. Was it the ruling Hamas movement, for permitting and conducting the terrorism that impelled Israel to prohibit transit from the Strip? The Post doesn't say.

Associated Press and Washington Times coverage echoed that of The New York Times, not The Washington Post. Thanks to CAMERA member and former McClatchey Newspapers Washington bureau chief Leo Rennert for first noting the difference.

Posted by ER at February 5, 2008 03:27 PM


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